BC Ferries upgrades Spirit Class vessels to operate on natural gas

September 8, 2017. BC Ferries is continuing its move toward liquefied natural gas (LNG) with an upgrade of its two Spirit Class vessels.

   The operator has pulled the first of two ships from service for upgrades, which will be done in Gdansk, Poland. The vessels will be converted to operate on liquefied natural gas or ultra-low sulphur marine diesel.

   BC Ferries projects the switch to natural gas will cut carbon emissions by 12,000 tonnes annually — akin to removing about 2,500 vehicles from the road each year.

   The Spirits are the two largest ships in BC Ferries' fleet — servicing the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route. They're also its biggest fuel guzzlers.

   The ships ate up about 15 per cent of BC Ferries' $100 million fuel bill last fiscal year. "By converting to natural gas, we can cut that fuel bill in half. That's a significant benefit for the fare payer," BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins said.

   Upgrades to the Spirit of British Columbia will be completed by spring of 2018. BC Ferries will then pull the Spirit of Vancouver vessel next fall. Both vessels will operate during peak traffic in the summer.

   Passengers will also notice new carpeting, refurbished washrooms, an expanded gift shop and a new coffee bar.